Drones more popular than phones?

BLACKSBURG, Va (WUSA9) -- How much do you love your phone?

The experts say some day you may be just as obsessed with your drone.

Virginia Tech just launched one of just six FAA authorized sites to test unmanned aircraft.

The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnerships Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site started with a demonstration of just how useful drones can be: A fake car crash... a truck leaking hazardous waste... After clearing bystanders.... an police officer flies in a drone to see what's leaking... how many people are hurt... and how best to rescue them without endangering anyone else.

Scores of companies are already jockeying to build and fly drones... but they are waiting FAA approval.

The Virginia Tech test site will conduct research to make sure unmanned aerial systems can fly safely in commercial airspace crowded with manned aircraft.

"It's not happening fast enough," says Virginia Tech professor Kevin Kochersberger. "I think everybody agrees we'd like it to happen quicker. But I'm a private pilot myself. I'm flying to Washington tomorrow. And I don't want to fly into an unmanned aircraft."

The FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the agency will issue rules for small drones in months -- although some have questioned whether the FAA will be ready. Rules for larger drones could take years.

"This is billions of dollars, thousands of new jobs," says Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va)."Safety is my top priority. But once we're past that, let's get going." The governor says drone jobs and dollars could help make up for big Defense Department cuts in Virginia.

Among the companies in the biggest hurry? TV news operations, which want to use drones to capture everything from traffic jams to tornadoes."It's a conversation we'd love to have and will continue to have with the news industry," says FAA Administrator Huerta. But he also warns that news operations would probably want to fly in some of the nation's busiest airspace.

But TV news execs are already talking with Virginia Tech about testing news drones here.


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